Story by Kenya News Agency
A Senior scholar on oil matters has underscored the need to manage community expectations as exploration of oil continues.
Geologist, Oil and Gas expert Dr Anthony Wyatt a lecturer at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, UK said although the commercial viability of the oil find in Turkana county is yet to be established, public expectations was very high.
Speaking during a two –days media training in Naivasha organized by Tullow oil, the scholar said people are already expecting a better quality of life after the oil find in Turkana County.
“The people are looking for better life including employment, better health care, better roads, access to clean water, yet it takes an average of six years for production of oil to begin after discovery’, said the oil and gas expert.
Citing Niger Delta, he said prospects of oil wealth can stir tribal and ethnic conflicts and especially over employment.
There have been concerns from locals in Turkana county over employment by Tullow Oil Company.
However, Wyatt said the oil and gas industry employs a relatively small number of skilled workers adding that there are few skilled persons in the industry all over the world.
“It takes a very long time to train skilled personnel in the industry therefore countries that have just discovered oil and gas are forced to rely on expatriates from other countries,” he said.
He noted that the oil companies are required to meet international standards in the procurement of goods and services as well as adhere to high safety requirements.
This, he said, is at times perceived by locals as an excuse to deny them jobs.
“International Oil Companies work to the same high standards wherever they are. Locally sourced materials must meet these standards. It is not easy but this message must get to the people,” he said.
Speaking during the meeting, Tullow oil senior communication advisor Mercy Kabangi called on the media to educate the community on the oil industry to avoid misunderstandings.
Kabangi also said the media should engage leaders so that they enact legislations to guide the industry.
“There is much more that we can do with proper legislation. The media should engage the leaders on these matters,” she said.
The training was attended by over 30 journalists from Turkana, Eldoret and Nairobi counties.